DALLAS (WCMH) — The No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats’ remarkable season came to an end New Year’s Eve after losing 27-6 to No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal.
Cincinnati was unable to run on the Tide, Alabama racked up 301 yards rushing and UC quarterback Desmond Ridder struggled to find a rhythm with Bama’s defense breathing down his neck . Here’s more on how Cincinnati’s bid for a national championship fell short in the Cotton Bowl.
Tide wash over Bearcats O-Line
Alabama’s defensive line bullied the Bearcats big men.
Cincinnati entered the CFP averaging 180.9 yards rushing. But the Bearcats couldn’t find any success on the ground against the Tide’s imposing front seven. UC only managed 74 yards rushing, including a dismal 17 yards on 10 carries in the first half.
The Bearcats never went away from the ground game, totaling 26 carries, but they also never found a rhythm against an Alabama defense that ranked fourth in the country in rushing yards allowed per game (82.8).
The inability to run forced countless third down long-yardage situations for UC, which only converted twice on 12 attempts. Those long-yardage situations allowed the Tide’s defense to get pressure, racking up six sacks and even more QB pressures.
Bama pushes Bearcats back
Alabama’s offensive line was just as effective at bulldozing UC, especially on the run at 6.4 yards per carry.
Alabama’s offensive line has been below average in terms of the program’s lofty standards. The Tide rank 80th in the country in rush yards per game (147.6), but they had their best game of the season against Georgia and they kept that success going against the Bearcats.
The Crimson Tide ran all over the Bearcats to the tune of 301 yards, including 172 yards in the first half.
UC disrupted Heisman winner Bryce Young and Alabama’s high-powered passing attack, keeping a team that averages 348 yards to 181 through the air.
But the Bearcats lack of offense meant more time on the field for UC’s defense, which eventually ran out of gas toward the start of the fourth quarter.
Alabama has lost three running backs this season to injury, but Brian Robinson Jr. continues to shoulder the load behind an ever-improving line.
Robinson excels at the second level with 56.9% of his 1,071 rushing yards coming after contact and leads the SEC with 68 tackles evaded, per ESPN. Alabama’s line opened gaps and Robinson was able to show his power and agility in the second and third level, amassing 204 yards.
Alabama’s ability to pressure Ridder had a clear impact on his passing struggles.
Ridder, arguably the best quarterback in Cincinnati history, mustered 144 yards and zero touchdowns while going 17-for-32. Four of those incompletions were a result of passes batted down by Alabama, including a would-be touchdown on first and goal during Cincinnati’s opening drive, which ended with a UC field goal.
Alabama allowed just three passes of more than 15 yards and locked UC down in the red zone. Cincinnati managed to get inside Alabama’s 25-yard line three times but those possessions ended in two field goals and a turnover on downs.
Ridder’s final game as a Bearcat is one to forget but he, Luke Fickell and the entire team took the college football world by storm in 2021 and put the University of Cincinnati football program on the map.